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Telepractice and temporary practice now addressed in Model Law

The AASSWB Model State Social Work Practice Act has been amended to include new sections dealing with, among other issues, the technological advances that make it possible for social workers to practice across state boundaries electronically. The new sections outline a process that would allow such social workers to fall under the jurisdiction of the state in which the client resides.

Approved by the AASSWB Delegate Assembly during the 1998 Annual Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, the new sections provide model language permitting a social worker licensed in one jurisdiction to practice in another for no more than 30 days per year without applying for a license. The licensee will have to make prior written application to the board, and must state within the scope of practice designated by the license he or she holds. Privileges would apply only if the requirements for a license in the licensing jurisdiction are substantially similar to those in the jurisdiction where the practice will take place.

A second section sets up similar requirements for allowing a social worker to come into another location to give temporary assistance-for example, in doing disaster work, or providing expert testimony in court cases.

If boards use the model language, they will be left with the task of deciding how the 30-day limit in the first section will be applied, whether it is consecutive or whether an electronic practitioner can use it a day or hour at a time.

Social workers covered under the temporary practice privilege will have submitted a "written application" and thus will be under the control of the board in the location where they are temporarily practicing. The extent of the application, and whether the board will actually act on temporary licensees or merely maintain files, are again board decisions. For a complete explanation of the new provisions, download a copy of the AASSWB Model State Social Work Practice Act.

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